Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Who Has Two Thumbs and Sucks at Packing?

That's right, this guy.

My friend left Spain on Wednesday.  I was by myself in Cunit until Sunday.  Left to my own devices, I had no idea what would happen.  What happened is I hid like a hermit for 2 days, and then started going out more on my own.  Note to self, I need to spend more time wandering around by myself.  I need to stop being lazy when people are around.  That little extra psychological impedance of another person is enough to give me excuses to just sit around like a lump.

Friday, work was basically a 6 hour conference call with my boss and the other senior developer on the team.  Many good things will come of it, but it left me feeling rather unproductive.  I also finally figured out how to lay out in the sun while I was working on Friday.  Much sun was had.  Much vitamin D was produced.

Saturday was packing day.  I really felt like this time I had things well in hand.  Early in the day I started with a timer.  I would pack or clean for 10 minutes, then get 20 minutes to do whatever I wanted.  I really didn't have that much to pack, and over the last few days I had moved everything I owned except bathroom stuff all into the same room.  Pack, rest, pack, goof off, pack, the wheels left the rails.

A friend contacted me.  She needed some support, and I was the right person to give it to her.  I am always happy to help out a friend, but it meant I wasn't packing, and I didn't set the next timer.  Eventually, I got back to packing.  If I would just pack for an hour and clean for an hour, I would probably have been done, but no, I'm never that motivated or that organized.

Around 5 pm, the landlady showed up.  Apparently, I was supposed to have left Saturday morning, but through a misunderstanding, I thought I was not supposed to leave until Sunday.  I admit I was in a panic.  I had moved a lot of furniture around.  I fully intended to put it all back, but I didn't want her to see.  She left, but she seemed a bit miffed.  I can understand.

I went out to eat for all three meals that day.  I finally got back from my dinner around midnight.  I finished my final packing, but it was getting late, and I did a piss poor job of cleaning.  I had to be on a train, with a ticket I had not bought yet, at 6 am.  That meant I planned to leave the apartment around 5 am, and meant I planned to be awake at 4 am.  Instead of sleeping like a normal person, I passed out before everything was done around 12:30 am.  I slept for an hour, woke in a panic, and cleaned a bit.  I was fairly out of it by then, and not always making rational decisions.  I tried to top up my data plan, because I was out and not sure if I would be able to contact my friend when I arrived in Paris.  I failed.  I cleaned.  I took out a lot of trash.  I threw out a lot of food from the fridge. I slept from 3:30 am to about 4:00 am.  I moved furniture around.  I realized I was not going to finish cleaning, and left dirty dishes neatly stacked in the sink.  I finally packed everything up, left money on the table (because I had been supposed to leave a day earlier and because I did a poor job of cleaning), and left for the train.

I arrived at the train station well before it was open.  I watched some television that was downloaded on my phone and waited for them to open.  Eventually they did.  I muddled my way through the ticket machine and bought a ticket for Barcelona.  Then, I tried to guess which platform I needed to be on.  There were three.  I could see no labels anywhere.  My stress level was elevated, as I needed to depart from Barcelona around 9 am, but I figured I could catch the next train if I missed the first and hopefully still make it.

As I stood by the first platform, I noticed every other person seemed to be going to the third platform.  After 20 minutes of watching people accumulate on a different platform, I decided to risk it and follow suit.  It was the right choice.  I caught my train and a long day of travel was started.

I was tired.  Very tired.  I kept nodding off on the 50 minute train ride to Barcelona.  There were pretty women on the train.  They also slept.  The beautiful coastline meandered by, and I fought sleep.  Finally, we arrived in Barcelona-Sants, and I departed.  Time to find my departure gate.

None of the displays I looked at showed my departure.  It was 7 am, and my departure wasn't until 9:25 am, so I wasn't that surprised, but it didn't help me find my gate.  I stopped by McDonalds, but their system wouldn't recognize my card, so I skipped them.  I didn't really want McDonalds anyways.  I just wanted the machine that would take my order so I didn't have to speak to someone who had no idea what I was trying to say.

I finally figured out that it looked like platforms 1-6 were international.  They had security before you entered, and after attempting to decipher the forbidden objects sign, I entered.  Not a word was uttered as I passed my belongings through the scanner, and there was no search of my person.  I supposed I could have just carried my pocket knives in my pocket, instead of throwing them out.

After going through security, there was one last cafe, and I got coffee and a sandwich.  By this point hunger was gnawing at me, so I'm quite glad they were there.

I found the last waiting area before the platform and waited.  There were some American girls on their way to Nice talking nearby, so I moved to where I could talk to them a little.  It was nice to understand and be understood again for a bit.  They left an hour before I would.  I read a bit, doodled a bit (I'm learning the Paper app on my iPad.), and generally just waited around until I could board.

Boarding the train, I learned that my car was the very end of the train.  It wasn't completely clear which way the train would be leaving, but I thought the way it would be going made mine the last one before the caboose, except that these days, instead of a caboose, there is usually an engine at both ends.  Up to my first class seat.  The car was a bit full, but the seat was spacious, comfortable, and altogether pleasing.

The trip was nice.  I slept a lot, courtesy of the 2 hours of sleep I had gotten in the night, but every time I was awake, the view outside the window was of something I could spend days exploring.  Castles, mountains, hills, sail boarding, kite boarding, and probably the largest train station I've ever been in, Paris Gare de Lyon.  I've never seen so many train tracks in one place, much less so many trains, running and otherwise.

Once we arrived, and I debarked, my friend in Paris was only a few meters away.  She hardly recognized me, as the last picture she had seen had no hair, and a fair amount of beard, where today, I have no beard, and my hair is growing back.  I recognized her immediately though.  It was an exciting meeting for me.  I've known her online for nearly 3 years, but this was our first time meeting in person.

One thing conspicuously missing from my trip was any kind of customs controls.  I'm sure all you experienced European travelers are used to this, but inside of the Schengen zone, it is apparently passport free travel.  I think I can be forgiven my anxiety upon experiencing this as the last time I was in Europe, there was no European Union.

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